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Mnuchin-Pelosi Budget Deal Is a Sellout of Republican Principles

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/J. David Ake

Any self-respecting conservative who has campaigned to rein in the debt of the United States has to oppose the budget deal cut between Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). This deal is a budget buster and will abandon forever the idea that Republicans care about spending and debt. 


The Tea Party may be in retreat, but the fight is not over.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Budget (CRB) the Mnuchin-Pelosi plan will increase federal borrowing authority to July 31, 2021, “raise discretionary spending caps for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020 and 2021” and “increase discretionary spending by $320 billion over the next two years.”  They estimate a hike of $1.7 trillion in new debt over the next ten years. There are some gimmicky “offsets” that have been added to give cover to some Republicans on cutting some spending, but even with those bogus cuts this deal is a compete embrace of the big government Republicanism that hurt the party in the past.

This agreement is yet another example of liberals beating Republicans in the art of the deal.  Republicans in Congress are obsessed with increasing defense spending and the administration was worried about roiling markets with concern over the debt limit not being raised.  This obsession and fear resulted in the administration and Republican leaders in Congress abandoning any pretense that they support cuts to spending. They gave away the farm, including massive increases in discretionary spending, massive hikes in the debt and an opportunity to leverage real reforms to mandatory spending programs as part of this sellout of a deal. 


Conservative leaders in the House and Senate have announced opposition to this horrible deal, yet the Republican leadership has already signaled support. On May 8, 2019, Freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and 41 conservatives previewed opposition to the deal when they wrote “we respectfully request that you adhere to the existing spending caps currently in law in order to preserve our ability to defend our nation, protect our seniors, and pass down a strong Republic to the next generation of Americans.”  They cited the $22 trillion in accumulated debt and the fact that the U.S. adds $100 million in new debt every hour.  The House Freedom Caucus has announced opposition and one member of the caucus told The Hill, "President Trump will have set the record for the largest increases in federal spending in the history of our country, surpassing George W. Bush's Republican record.”  With all the laudable achievements of the Trump administration, this will be a black mark if it passes and the president signs it.

Many limited government supporting opinion leaders have expressed outrage at the deal. On July 22, 2019, Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute wrote in National Review Online of this being the final nail in the coffin of the spending restraint embodied by the Tea Party movement. Riedl is correct to fear the return of trillion-dollar annual deficits. Dan Mitchell, free market economist declares that current Republicans are “on the verge of meekly surrendering to another big expansion of the federal budget.” The liberty movement is angry with this abandonment of fiscal sanity.


Even some in the establishment are reacting with horror. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) declares this the worst deal ever. An analyst at The Heritage Foundation, and former Trump administration official argues that the deal is the “worst in a decade.” At a minimum, this deal harkens back to TARP and the deal cut by then Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in 2013 that started a cycle of undoing the cuts negotiated in the 2011 debt limit deal. Washington becomes bipartisan when they want to do bad things and we are seeing unprecedented bipartisanship to screw the taxpayer with more debt and spending. 

Think about how a family would deal with a crisis. Your average American can’t just call credit card companies and say, “hey, I need some more cash.  I know I owe you guys about one year’s salary, but I need a bit more cash for this year.   How about increasing my spending limit by another $100K?”  Our federal government owes about one year of the total output of the American economy. That is unsustainable.  For the family asking for a credit hike, the credit card company would laugh in the face of that family member making the request. 

The American people seem to keep getting lied to by members of both parties that they will stop spending the cash of future generations for a bigger government today. This agreement is terrible and conservatives need to kill it. Congress should stay in session in August to cut a better deal for the taxpayer.  No way that any deal to hike the debt limit should undo a prior Tea Party inspired 2011 debt limit deal that actually restrained spending.


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